RCLANG 320 - Readings in French
Winter 2022, Section 001
Instruction Mode: Section 001 is  In Person (see other Sections below)
Subject: RC Languages (RCLANG)
Department: LSA Residential College
See additional student enrollment and course instructor information to guide you in your decision making.


With permission of instructor.
Advisory Prerequisites:
Successful completion of the RC French Proficiency, FRENCH 235 or instructor permission.
May be elected three times for credit.
Primary Instructor:


The abundance of treatises on friendship throughout history, and the profusion of research on the subject nowadays, attest not only to the importance of this human phenomenon—present in all cultures in different forms—but also to the enduring interest in piercing its mystery. 

What is friendship? What is at its fundamental core? How and why does it emerge between two or more individuals? Is it a form of love? Does it originate from or against collectivity? Does it even still exist in today’s world dominated by relations based on self-interest? How does it manifest itself in other cultures?

These are some of the questions which will be discussed in this seminar. We will glean answers from three different fields of investigation, namely psycho-sociology, philosophy and cultural anthropology, which we will consider each in turn.

First, we will discover how friendship manifests itself presently both in the United States and in France. Our readings in psycho-sociology will help us understand the modes through which friendship is constructed, as well as the practices in which it engages. The social dimension of friendship in both these countries will also be highlighted.

Given that any discourse on friendship opens upon the world of philia, of philosophy, we will then go back in time to the ancient Greek city where the Western idea of friendship was born, and we will see how this idea was transmitted and evolved through the Roman and Christians eras, the Renaissance and “l’Ancien Régime”, leading us up to today. From the philosophical tradition, we will read what represents a modest selection of the many contributors to this concept. Aristotle, Epicure and Cicero will lead our study that will then focus, with the exception of Kant, on French thinkers such as Montaigne, La Rochefoucault, La Bruyère, Vauvenargues, Saint-Exupéry and Derrida.

 We will then pursue our study by taking a world tour and examining the importance of friendship and its practices in non-Western societies (India, Taiwan, Tibet, Burkina Faso).

Our investigation will close with a discussion on how social media and the COVID pandemic are impacting the very notion of friendship.

Readings will be selected from various sources: chapters of psycho-sociological and cultural anthropological studies, articles from professional journals, excerpts of philosophical treatises on friendship. Tahar Ben Jelloun’s Le dernier ami will be read in its entirety. Our close reading of texts will be supplemented by a few songs and two films, Mon meilleur ami by Patrice Leconte and Les Amitiés maléfiques by Emmanuel Bourdieu.

Course Requirements:

Attendance is required. Course work will include analytical and research essays and a presentation that will contribute to a collective project on prominent female figures from the French-speaking world. Students are expected to participate actively in class discussions.

Intended Audience:

This class is open to students who have passed the RC French Proficiency Exam, taken FRE 235, or received instructor permission. Priority is given to RC students.

Class Format:

This is a seminar type course which meets twice a week for 90 minutes.


RCLANG 320 - Readings in French
Schedule Listing
001 (SEM)
 In Person
TuTh 1:00PM - 2:30PM

Textbooks/Other Materials

The partner U-M / Barnes & Noble Education textbook website is the official way for U-M students to view their upcoming textbook or course material needs, whether they choose to buy from Barnes & Noble Education or not. Students also can view a customized list of their specific textbook needs by clicking a "View/Buy Textbooks" link in their course schedule in Wolverine Access.

Click the button below to view and buy textbooks for RCLANG 320.001

View/Buy Textbooks


Syllabi are available to current LSA students. IMPORTANT: These syllabi are provided to give students a general idea about the courses, as offered by LSA departments and programs in prior academic terms. The syllabi do not necessarily reflect the assignments, sequence of course materials, and/or course expectations that the faculty and departments/programs have for these same courses in the current and/or future terms.

Click the button below to view historical syllabi for RCLANG 320 (UM login required)

View Historical Syllabi

CourseProfile (Atlas)

The Atlas system, developed by the Center for Academic Innovation, provides additional information about: course enrollments; academic terms and instructors; student academic profiles (school/college, majors), and previous, concurrent, and subsequent course enrollments.

CourseProfile (Atlas)